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JustJoan: THE AGONY AUNT WITH ALL THE ANSWERS; My son wants to kick me out.

Byline: JOAN BURNIE

JOAN'S SOLUTION

Q AT the beginning of the year I left my wife for another woman. I knew within 24 hours that I had made the biggest mistake of my life.

My wife agreed to take me back and I am glad to say we are managing to make a real go of it. I realise how much I love and need her and she says she feels the same about me.

She has also been generous enough to admit that maybe it was good for us because it made us appreciate what we had.

She also confessed that although she hasn't had a full-blown affair, she got closer than she should have to a colleague of hers. But we have one problem - our son ,who is 14.

We also have two daughters aged 15 and 10 and they are really happy we are back together. However, the boy is still very angry and refuses to speak to me except to give me cheek. It breaks my heart, because we used to do everything together.

I feel so helpless. When his mum asked why he couldn't forgive me when she had, he said he despised her, too, because she should have thrown me out.

A RAISING a teenager is never easy, even when the family unit is strong and united. But when it has received a direct hit which threatened to destroy it altogether, there are bound to be severe repercussions.

Your son, you say, is angry with you. Maybe he's entitled. When their parents' relationship crashes, it's nearly always their kids who suffer most. They are, if you like, the collateral damage in our grown- up marital wars. It is never our intention to hurt them, but that doesn't prevent it from happening only too often.

All your kids must have been hit hard when you and their mum split up. The girls no less than their brother, but they, fortunately, seem to have been able to put everything behind them, just happy - at least for now - that you are home and back with them and their mum again.

I don't doubt your son would love to feel the same way, but he can't and the more you try to make him, the worse it will get.

The boy needs time to adjust and if you are wise, that is what you will give him. You must not force it, far less endlessly ask him to understand. Suddenly, everything on which he believed he could rely isn't quite as secure as he once thought. He's had a bad double whammy.

Suddenly everything on which he thought he could rely isn't quite as secure as he once thought. He's had to grow up very quickly and face the fact that you aren't only his good old dad and best buddy, but a real live human being who has real live failings and, worst of all, real live sexual feelings.

Kids never like to think about their parents and sex. They probably know they do it, but they push it to the back of their heads and don't want to have their noses rubbed in their parents' bedsheets, as it were.

But by running off with the other woman, this is what you did to your son.

At the same time, he must also have felt very protective towards his mum. He will have seen himself as the man of the house, taking on the responsibility of looking after her, when the person who should have - you - let her down. That he was willing to do.

But then you waltz back and instead of kicking you smartly out again, his mother kills the fatted calf and so he gets raging mad with his mum as well.

He doesn't understand either of you because when you are a teenager, there is a tendency to see things in black and white. The greys of a relationship, especially of a married relationship, usually pass kids by.

From his perspective, you're both not to be trusted. So your son is putting up his defences because, for all he knows, you could leave again and this time, he's determined he's not going to be hurt and the best way to do that is to hurt you right back.

That means you not only have to be patient with him, but realise that you have a lot of ground to make up.

It is in the long run your actions, not your words, which are going to sort this out.

He also needs to be told off if his behaviour is unacceptable and when he's rude to his mother. Your son has to understand that his parents' relationship is not his business.

So you don't argue about it, beg his forgiveness, or go in for complicated explanations. Once everything, including his own hormones, settle down, he'll allow you be his father again. But never forget when things get tough that it was your conduct which made things tougher than they might have been.

YOUR VERDICTS

ALL teenagers are stroppy. They also cheek their parents for no other reason than the fact that they are teenagers. I think this man is still feeling guilty so he's being hyper- sensitive. He should try chilling out a little and leaving his son alone.

In fact, he's taught him a very valuable lesson which is that grown ups can have fights, but they also make up and even if they don't, it's not the end of the world.

I am 22 and seven or eight years ago my mum and dad split up and I felt like killing myself because I loved them both. I also thought it must be my fault because I, too, was a typical teenager.

But my parents explained it wasn't anything to do with me. I lived with my mum, but saw a lot of my dad and when he remarried two years ago, I was his best man.

My mum was sad for quite a long time, but she's now gone to Uni and I am very proud of them both.

Scooterboy via email.

I KNOW how his son feels because my mum did the exact same - only worse.

My dad hits her and when she put him out, it was the happiest day of my life, but then she took him back and I feel sick.

I'm planning to leave home as soon as I can.

He gives me money and I take it, because why shouldn't I?

But it won't make any difference. I hate him and I have no respect for my mum any more.

He says he will never hit her again, but I have been hearing that since I was about five and I don't believe him.

Neither does she, really, and that is what makes everything so sick.

Name and address supplied.

NEXT WEEK'S PROBLEM

I AM 37, but people think I look 10 years younger. I have a 15- year-old daughter and she is always being mistaken for my sister.

I look after myself and watch my weight. I go to the gym and I swim twice a week. I also have a reasonable social life and enjoy going out to clubs and dancing. My husband, however, has become an old man.

He's only 40, but he's completely let himself go. He's fat, he's got dandruff and his idea of a good night is to come home, change into a dirty old track suit, send out for a takeaway and then get sozzled while he watches football or a war movie on the box.

Then he wants sex and is very offended if I refuse. The problem is that I would love to leave him, but I worry about being on my own for the rest of my life. We've also got a nice home and car because my husband is what my mum calls `a good provider'.

I only work part time, so I am scared of being poor. I have had a couple of affairs, but what I really want is a new start with a new husband.

Send your verdicts to next week's problem, by Tuesday, April 15, to: Your verdict, Just Joan, Daily Record, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA or e-mail j.burnie@dailyrecord.co.uk
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Title Annotation:JUST JOAN
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 11, 2003
Words:1386
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